Former SFY Participant Jeff Tank Sees Value in Checkoff Investment

With more than half of Minnesota’s annual soybean crop being exported each year, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) uses a portion of the soybean checkoff to expand markets and build relationships with international customers. Because of the value exporting brings to soybeans, the Council offers Minnesota farmers an opportunity to evaluate these investments with a See For Yourself (SFY) mission.

The 2016 SFY mission will be headed to Vietnam, with tentative dates of March 16, 2016, through March 27, 2016. Any questions on the trip can be directed to Keith Schrader, Vice Chairman of MSR&PC, at 507-649-1574 or kcschrad@hotmail.com. The registration link is below.

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Leading up to the 2016 SFY mission, Minnesota Soybean will be interviewing past participants about their mission experience.

Jeff Tank, Chair of the Dodge County Corn and Soybean Growers, is managing a corn and soybean farm near Dodge Center, Minn. He participated in SFY during the 2013 mission.

Q: Where did you travel to for your See For Yourself (SFY) mission?

A: I had the opportunity to participate in the SFY tour that went to China in 2013.

Q: What influenced you to sign up for SFY?

A: I heard from others that have been on the SFY trips that they are very interesting and a great opportunity to get to see how some of our soybean checkoff dollars are used.

Q: What did you know about soybean checkoff did investment in the country before your SFY mission?

A: I knew they had people working on PR and marketing in those areas. I didn’t realize that we had such a team of quality people working and living there until I visited.

Q: What did you take away from your mission?

A: I was able to see the importance of keeping a good working and trading relationship with China. Obviously they are a huge customer, consuming a large amount of our soybeans. Keeping them informed on the value of our product is very important.  When meeting with the Chinese customers that use our soybeans, you could tell they were genuinely grateful that a group of farmers from Minnesota, the origin of their soybeans, came across the world to meet with them. I think that relationship sets us apart from other exporters.

Q: What is one lasting memory that you will always remember from your mission?

A: If I had not gone to China with this group, I doubt that I would have ever gone on my own. Part of building relationships with our customers abroad is learning more about their culture. Because of this, we were able to see parts of China others wouldn’t be able to see. We also were able to walk on The Great Wall of China, which was an awesome sight and something I will always remember.

Q: Why should someone sign up for the SFY 2016 mission?

A: I would encourage others to sign up for future SFY mission trips because it is a great opportunity to join other farmers on a trip like this. You get to see and tour places that the general public never sees and you make great contacts with fellow farmers and customers from all over the country and world.

Q: What value do you see in the Minnesota Research and Promotion Council investing money oversees?

A: Since more than 50 percent of our soybeans are exported, it is tremendously valuable to invest money oversees to maintain and gain relationships with our customers and continue to prove that we have a steady, quality product for them.